Sudden Infant Death Can Occur in Child Seats, esp When Not In Car and Adult Asleep Interview with:

Jeffrey Colvin, MD, JDDepartment of PediatricsChildren's Mercy HospitalKansas City, MO 64111

Dr. Colvin

Jeffrey Colvin, MD, JD
Department of Pediatrics
Children’s Mercy Hospital
Kansas City, MO 64111 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Prior studies have found that infants spend an average of 5-6 hours a day in sitting devices. Sitting devices include car seats, swings, infant seats, and strollers.

Given how much time infants are spending in sitting devices, we wanted to know if sleep-related infant deaths (such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or “SIDS”) was occurring in those devices. We examined over 10,000 infant sleep-related deaths from 45 states. We found that 3% (or 348) of the deaths occurred in sitting devices. Two-thirds of the deaths in sitting devices were in car seats. What was most surprising was that less than 10% of the deaths in car seats occurred in cars. Instead, the great majority occurred in the child’s home or the home of a relative, friend, or babysitter. In 1/3 of the deaths in car seats, the supervising adult was asleep. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: Parents should know that car seats are the safest place for their infant when travelling in a car, whether the infant is asleep or awake. But outside of the car, the safest place for a sleeping infant is in a crib or bassinet. Car seats are not substitutes for a crib or bassinet. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Further research is needed to determine why infants were sleeping in car seats when the car seat was not being used for travel. Were there financial barriers to affording a crib or bassinet? Or, is the perception of car seats as being a safety device falsely leading parents into thinking they can be used for sleep outside of the car? 

None of the authors have any financial conflicts of interest. One author, Dr. Moon, has served as a paid expert witness in a case of sleep-related infant death.



May 2019Infant Deaths in Sitting Devices

Peter Liaw, Rachel Y. Moon, Autumn Han, Jeffrey D. Colvin

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Last Updated on May 20, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD